Carving Out Space.
Carving Out Space for Girls:
Girls tell us that one of their largest challenges is space to play. Girls are often kicked off the field by boys, or open gym time at city rec centers becomes saturated with boys. Girls need girl-centered play time and space. We carve out space for girls through Direct Programming, Reserving Space, and our Like a Girl College Showcase.
Direct Programming: Like a Girl runs supplemental soccer programming once per week throughout most of the year.
Like a Girl knows that girls already play with their cultural or community teams, and believes that these spaces of play, where they often organize and coach themselves, are important. We do not run comprehensive programming so as to not interfere with or take away from girls’ time to play with their teams. We do however supplement what they already do with a reliable, consistent, safe girl-centric space.
Like a Girl emphasizes community girl coaches. This means that our goal is to empower leader girl soccer players to understand themselves as coaches. Like a Girl supports and mentors women coaches who grew up playing in immigrant and refugee spaces in St Paul.
Reserving Space: Like a Girl acts as a community resource for urban, cultural girls’ teams. If girls are wanting more time and space to practice with their teams, they can contact us, and we work to find them space.
For example, a Bhutanese Youth Soccer Club girls team in St Paul decided that they wanted to prepare more for their next Bhutanese (BYSC) national tournament. They wanted a space to practice over the winter. The BYSC girls and Like a Girl worked together to find winter gym time for them.
Like a Girl College Showcase: Our Like a Girl College Showcase creates a space for girls of color, immigrant, refugee, urban, and or low-income girls soccer players that does not otherwise exist.
Typically, in order to be recruited to play soccer in college, girls must play at expensive, club college showcase tournaments. Our community of immigrant, refugee, urban cultural girls’ teams are not traditionally seen by college coaches. Our Like a Girl College Showcase brings immigrant, refugee, urban cultural girls’ teams and college coaches together in the cities for a girls soccer tournament. This space that bridges the world of college soccer and immigrant, refugee, urban cultural girls soccer is completely new.
1. Cultural Tournaments Scholarship: There is a network of immigrant or refugee girls soccer teams and tournaments throughout the United States. The goal of our tournament Scholarships is to alleviate cost barriers for girls to participate in their cultural community tournaments.
Whether needed for transportation, tournament fees or soccer equipment needed to play in the tournament (ex: shin guards), Twin Cities girls teams can apply for a Tournament Scholarship from Like a Girl.
2. Equipment Scholarship: The goal of our Equipment Scholarships is to alleviate cost barriers to safety and other equipment girls’ teams may need or desire.
Some girls may need larger shoes that fit, some girls may need shin guards. Some teams may need balls, cones, or nets to practice on their own. Twin Cities girls teams can apply for an Equipment Scholarship from Like a Girl.
Of the 27, 812 women who played college soccer in the 2017-2018 school year, 20, 762 of them were white. The second largest racial group is Hispanic/ Latina women, of which 2,248 played. Only 438 Asian women played college soccer in 2017-2018 (NCAA). Women of color are under-represented in American women’s college soccer. Additionally, the United States Women’s National Team is predominately white. Only 14 women of color have represented the US on the USWNT since the team’s first ever FIFA Women’s World Cup in 1991. Only one Asian woman, Lorrie Fair, and one Latina woman, Amy Rodriguez, have ever played for the USWNT.
This predominantly white representation of an American women soccer player at the pinnacle of the girls and women’s soccer system in America has lead to stories of female soccer largely from white perspectives. This abundant representation of white girls and women soccer players and comparative under-representation of girls and women of color, immigrant, and or refugee girl and woman soccer players contributes to a prototypical image of a female soccer player as white.
Like a Girl aims to provide a platform for girls and women of color, immigrant, and refugee girls, to share their stories of being a soccer player. Through this story telling, girls and women of color, immigrant, and or refugee girls challenge our stereotypical image of what it looks like to be an American female soccer player.